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Yoga for health

Yoga is a practice that connects the body, breath, and mind. It uses physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to improve overall health. Yoga was developed as a spiritual practice thousands of years ago. Today, most Westerners do yoga for exercise or to reduce stress.

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Benefits of Yoga

Yoga can improve your overall fitness level and improve your posture and flexibility. It may also:

In addition, practicing yoga may also help with the following conditions:

Who Should use Caution

Yoga is generally safe for most people. But you may need to avoid some yoga poses or modify poses if you:

Make sure to tell your yoga instructor if you have any of these conditions or any other health problem or injury. A qualified yoga teacher should be able to help you find poses that are safe for you.

Styles of Yoga

There are many different types or styles of yoga. They range from mild to more intense. Some of the more popular styles of yoga are:

How to get Started

Look for yoga classes at your local gym, health center, or yoga studio. If you are new to yoga, start with a beginner class. Talk with the instructor before the class and tell them about any injuries or health conditions you may have.

You may want to ask about the instructor's training and experience. However, while most instructors have had some formal training, there are no certified yoga training programs. Choose an instructor you enjoy working with who does not push you in ways you are not comfortable.

What to Expect

Most yoga classes last from 45 to 90 minutes. All styles of yoga include three basic components:

How to Prevent Injury

While yoga is generally safe, you can still get hurt if you do a pose incorrectly or push yourself too far. Here are some tips to stay safe when doing yoga.

References

Guerrera MP. Integrative medicine. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 12.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. 5 things you should know about yoga. nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/yoga. Updated September 24, 2015. Accessed August 13, 2018.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website. Yoga: in depth. nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Updated June 2013. Accessed August 13, 2018.

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Review Date: 8/3/2018  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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